February 21, 2020
The inventiveness of the tobacco companies is really amazing. The countdown to the menthol ban is on and the ticking is getting louder, but we have known about it for a few years. The response from big tobacco has partly been how to get around the new law and for some time they have been developing products to do just that.
Fair play to them: they have loyal customers they don’t want to lose or disappoint. One idea they have come up with is menthol-filtered cigarillos.
The lawyers have gone over the TPD rules with a fine-tooth comb and concluded that the ban doesn’t affect cigars because they are not processed tobacco.
All the same, I have a few doubts about the success of this swerve, from the point of view both of the customers and the retailers.
First: will customers, now used to buying twenties only, be happy to revert to tens, which is how cigarillos are sold? I am not sure – and add to that the experience of smoking cigars is very different to smoking cigarettes. Menthol smokers are probably not the heaviest smokers anyway, but they will suddenly turn to cigars?
Second: for us retailers, is getting into menthol cigarillos a good tactic, given that tobacco sales are declining three per cent every year recently, and vape sales going up by the same amount?
What’s more, there is extra margin and profit in vape, so for me at least it won’t slow my push into the vape market. I might stock menthol cigarillos but I’ll hardly spend a lot of time promoting them.
So I guess I would say they are a great idea for the really committed and militant smokers but I’m definitely going to still get people to try and switch to vaping for the sake of the margin – and of course the health.
Amrit Singh Pahal owns Nisa Local High Heath and is a columnist for Vape Business